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A Promising Management Strategy

, , , , | Working | December 1, 2022

I briefly worked for an internal call center for a software development company. It was mildly frustrating dealing with both incoming calls and outgoing follow-ups, and the commute was terrible, but the business hours, pay, and eventual benefits were decent for what the work was, if less than enough to cover the cost of living as well as the commute. What actually sold me was the fact that they were opening up a new location all of ten minutes from my house, and I was verbally guaranteed to get assigned to it when it went live three months later.

Unfortunately, just shy of two months after starting, I get called into a meeting with the department head.

Department Head: “So, I’ve got some bad news, but let me start by saying you’ve been doing absolutely wonderful and have exceeded all your marks so far, and everyone loves having you around.”

Me: “I sense a ‘but’ looming on the horizon.”

Department Head: “Heh, indeed. But… the group we were going to be leasing our new office from backed out on the deal. I don’t have all the details, which is why I haven’t made an official email to everyone yet, but I wanted to talk to you first. I know you said the only reason you were able to work through this was anticipating the new office.”

Me: “Yyyyeah. No offense to you or the company, but between gas and tolls, the commute eats up way too much of the paycheck, and it’s way too long a drive for me that early in the morning long-term.”

Department Head: “Totally understandable. I already talked with Human Resources, and we came up with two solutions: first would be a fifty-cent-an-hour raise effective immediately, if you could stay.”

Me: “Unfortunately, that’s not enough to cover everything.”

Department Head: “In that case, rather than making you quit, we can work out a deal where we let you go in a way that you’re still qualified for the unemployment you were on before.”

Me: “Oh, really? That’s… unexpectedly generous. You’re sure there won’t be any repercussions for me?”

Department Head: “Positive. [HR Representative] will have all the details — she’ll talk with you tomorrow — but the verbiage was something along the lines of ‘no-fault economic difficulties’. Can we at least contact you to see if you’ll still be available should we get another office up and running in your area?”

Me: “Absolutely. Thank you for actually taking the time to talk through this with me.”

I worked through the rest of the week, and the department head bought lunch for me and a couple of others in the same boat on the last day. Sure enough, unemployment did kick back in right away.

Nine months later, I got an email back from [HR Representative] there, offering to take me back in at full-time with the offered increase at a new facility. Unfortunately for them, I had already gotten another, much better-paying job in the interim, but it was still nice to see they actually kept their promises when they could.

How Dare You Bleed?!

, , , , , | Right | November 20, 2022

I badly injured my hand a few weeks ago. I’m working one night when I accidentally reopen the wound, and blood begins to pour out like a faucet. I’m not really concerned about my safety, since the doctor said this could happen, but since I’m bleeding all over the place, I obviously have to quickly act to stop it and redress the wound. I’m walking down a hallway with my injured hand soaked in blood and my uninjured hand gripping it tightly… and also soaked in blood.

Basically, it looks like a horror show.

I’m trying to awkwardly open the breakroom door with my elbows so I don’t get blood on it when I hear a woman clear her throat. I am focused on what I’m trying to do, so I think nothing of it.

Customer: “Excuse me!”

I turn my head to see a woman in her sixties standing there, looking furious.

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am, but I cannot assist you right now. If you walk further into the lobby, there are several staff members who can assist you.”

Customer: “No! I need help right now! It is an emergency! My chair won’t recline all the way! You need to come with me right now!

Me: “Ma’am, trust me, you don’t want me to help you.”

Customer: “Pfft! I’ll get you fired if you don’t help me!”

Me: “Ma’am… please go to the lobby. I really can’t help you!”

Customer: “What’s your name?! I’m gonna report you!”

I turn all the way and hold up my blood-drenched hands so she can see them.

Me: “My name is [My Name], and as you can see… I got bigger fish to fry, thankyouverymuch!

Customer: *Shrieking* “Ack! You’re disgusting! Lazy!”

She storms away and I finally get the door open.

About fifteen minutes later, I’m all good. I’ve cleaned up, I’ve pretty much stopped the bleeding, and I have rewrapped my hand in gauze and medical tape. My manager comes in right as I’m about to leave.

Manager: “Evidently, I’m supposed to fire you for bleeding, according to some lady.”

Me: “Oh, yeah?”

Manager: “Yeah. But no worries. I firmly told her exactly what orifice she could shove her complaint up when I realized you must have reopened your wound. She didn’t like that and left.”

Entitled Brat? If The Shoe Fits…

, , , , , | Right | November 18, 2022

I work in the shoe department of a department store. It’s eight minutes past the time for me to go home. A customer is standing by the stockroom door, clearly waiting to be helped. My coworker assists her as I get ready to leave and heads off with a smile, making a little joke to the woman and laughing.

This coworker is busy grabbing shoes for two people now because it’s a busy Saturday and all employees have to take multiple customers at a time, or we wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Then, I hear a noise and recognize it instantly as the warning call (cough) of an entitled customer.

Customer: “Ha-hemmm.”

It’s the customer from before, still right outside the stockroom door. I ignore her. I, glorious thing of glorious things, am going home! The customer is being helped. I am in the back in a matter of seconds. She doesn’t need me. But I can hear her, and she can hear me. The rabid customer knows her prey is close.

Customer: *Clears her throat again* “Ha-HEMMMM.”

Figuring she is in desperate need of something at this point, I go outside with a smile, figuring I can always run and grab my coworker if she needs an additional shoe.

Me: “Hello! Did you need something?” 

Customer: “Yes, I would like to know what is going on!”

Me: *Blank-faced and innocent* “Going on with what?”

Customer:With my shoes! I gave someone a shoe to grab, and I want to know what’s going on!”

Me: “Well, ma’am, she’s grabbing your shoe now. She just got into the back, so give her a minute, and she’ll be back.”

I then go into the back, assuming that will be enough to pacify the woman who clearly wants special attention. Obviously, we all have stupid moments in life, and this is mine. From outside the stockroom door, I hear another coworker walk straight into the jowls of the customer, who instantly closes the trap.

Customer: *To [Coworker #2]*Excuuuuuse me! What is going on with my shoe?!”

[Coworker #2] has no idea what has been going on or that [Coworker #1] just got the shoe from this woman and it has been less than a minute.

Coworker #2: “Was someone helping you?”

Customer: “Yes, and I’d like to know what is going on!”

Coworker #2: “All right, let me find out for you.”

They walk into the back, befuddled. I explain that [Coworker #1] just went to get the shoe and is coming before they ask, but then, as I’m explaining this, what should I hear but the customer stopping TWO MORE of my coworkers. They go into the back and start shouting for [Coworker #1] before I can stop them. I start redirecting my coworkers to go out of the other stockroom door while I do my closing duties so they don’t have to endure this mass of crazy entitlement.

Then, the customer walks boldly into the back and around the corner. I hear footsteps and think it is a coworker, until…

Customer: “EXCUUUUSE ME!”

I freeze in disbelief and slowly turn, like a deer into an oncoming car. I just can’t look away.

Me: “Ma’am, you can’t be back here.”

Customer: “But I want to know what is going on with my shoe!”

Me: “I already told you that my coworker is grabbing it. It’s our busiest day, so you’re going to need to give her a minute. Go sit outside and she will come to find you, but you can’t be back here!”

She leaves, only to continue her tirade outside of the stockroom door. My coworkers, now wiser, ignore her. Then, she pulls this gem and starts shouting right outside the door.

Customer: “I CHECKED MY TIMER, AND I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES!”

It has not even been five minutes. Because she isn’t receiving what she considers her proper attention, she is now lying to get my coworker in trouble. I leave the stockroom, vengeance in mind.

Customer: “I’ve been wait—”

Me: “Ma’am, I had this discussion with you. My coworker is grabbing the shoe.”

Customer: “But I’ve been wait—”

Me: “I heard you, and you haven’t been waiting twenty-five minutes. I’ve been here this whole time. I was right beside my coworker when she grabbed the shoe from you. She’s been back there less than five minutes. You have not been waiting for twenty-five. Sit down and give her some more time. We’re very busy today.”

Customer: “I checked my timer, and it’s been twenty-five minutes!”

Me: “Ma’am, I also checked my manager’s clock before I went into the back. I needed to in order to finish my shift. Both my manager and I know exactly what time it was when my coworker came into the back because we all walked back here together. It was 6:38. You’re telling me that if I go check the clock, it’s going to be past seven?”

She doesn’t have anything to say to that, so she falls silent and turns away. I figure I have defeated the beast and go into the back, only to hear:

Customer: “I’VE BEEN WAITING TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES!”

I’m hoping she was just having a bad day.

The Ministry Of Lazy Walks

, , , , , | Working | November 16, 2022

My father didn’t really give me a ton of advice growing up; he was more of the practical hands-on type. But one thing he instilled was “Never quit a job until you have something else lined up.” That advice was why I stuck with a particular job as a warehouse worker for over a decade, but that’s a whole litany of other, less interesting stories.

After that company finally downsizes me, I end up taking another job in a warehouse. I make sure they’re aware that my prior warehouse was 99% small items and box shipments under twenty pounds, and most of my experience with pallets was undoing them and moving unwrapped stacks of backstock, not handling actual freight shipments. Still, the manager is shocked when I don’t already know everything about freight shipping, ESPECIALLY not the way they handle things, which is about a 180-degree flip from how my old place did its few pallets a year.

Thankfully, I’m a quick study and already know the basics, and I pick up on the rest of it basically within a week. That’s when I get moved from the shipping area to the actual stocking part of the warehouse. The good news is that the folks in this area are much more casual, and also there are chairs for the computers and sit-down forklifts. Nine-plus-hour shifts on bare concrete where the only sitting is your lunch break and MAYBE the bathroom are very bad for the knees and back.

The bad news is that now the manager has a more direct hand in things, compared to before when the “shipping supervisor” worked over me. The man is a piece of work, alternating between being overly jovial and laughing and being a furious overlord with the flip of a switch. The warehouse is in the middle of a massive reorganization; they’re tearing down entire aisles to make room for more manufacturing on one end and transporting stock to an off-site storage area. New stuff is constantly coming in while we’re also trying to push out old stuff through the same docks. In short, it’s the worst-case scenario for a warehouse not involving structural failure or a fire or something.

That’s when the abuse begins. Granted, the part of New Jersey I’m in has sarcasm as a primary language, and in a setting like that, some light-hearted jabs and messing around are commonplace. No, this is outright insults, including calling the all-male group various derogatory female terms for having a dentist appointment to fix a shattered tooth, questioning their moral integrity and masculinity for having plans, and outright insinuating they have some ulterior motive if they just want to go home because they’re sick or hurt.

This is all in response to OVERTIME, by the way. Not even calling out sick, just “I can’t stay three hours past closing for a fourth night this week because I have an actual medical issue to take care of,” and getting talked to like they’re personally reaching into his wallet and stealing cash.

For me, it all comes to a head one day when the manager pulls me aside.

Manager: “Hey, I just wanted to talk to you about some of your behavior lately.”

Me: *Visibly confused* “My behavior?”

Manager: “Yeah, you’ve been getting better with the accuracy, and I do appreciate that. But, well, you just come across as lazy.”

Me: *Pauses* “Lazy.”

Manager: “Lazy. You know we operate here with a sense of urgency, but you just seem to take your time and move at your own pace.”

Me: “Nnnno, I go as quickly as I can without causing errors. Do you not want me counting the stuff I pick, or running around the warehouse with 800-pound pallets on hand jacks without looking?”

Manager: “Of course not, no! Just pick up the pace and try to walk better; you walk very lazy.”

Me: “I walk… l what? What does that even mean?!”

Manager: “It just looks like you walk lazy. Fix it.”

And then he walked off. I was completely baffled, and as this was the end of the day, I only got a quick chance to talk to the other guys, who were equally confused. I went home that night and did something I had only done once before due to work stuff: I cried. And the last time was from being let go. After a long talk with my husband that night, I finally broke out of my dad’s programming.

The next day, I went straight to Human Resources after punching in and put in my two-week notice, and even THAT was just because I respected the other warehouse guys. I laid down everything that had happened, including explicit descriptions of public bullying and harassment. The other guys in the warehouse actually congratulated me on going through with it; they all were looking for other jobs themselves. The next two weeks were interesting, especially since HR apparently interviewed everyone to get their opinions.

I don’t know what repercussions the manager ended up facing, if any; they were certainly after I left. But I thankfully still had about a month and a half of unemployment to fall back on, and I ended up finding another job — at an actual desk and WITHOUT a boss that has to make themselves feel better by tearing down the people below them. Woohoo!

Malicious Compliance Brought Her To Her Knees

, , , , , , | Working | November 11, 2022

There was a manager in our office who was a nightmare. She liked to intimidate all of the admins. Since I was about a decade older than the others, who were in their early twenties, it used to upset her that this tactic didn’t work with me.

I covered her phone when she went out to lunch and would leave her messages on her desk. Then, she decided that she didn’t want me stepping into her office.

Manager: “Just slip my messages under my door.”

I complied, but I was sure to flick them in every direction, so [Manager] spent the first few minutes when she returned crawling on the floor to retrieve the scattered messages.